BELDING — It’s been a season of learning and gaining experience for the Belding Redskins volleyball team.
With no seniors, an injury to a key player (Gabby Holyfield) and four freshman starting, the Redskins (17-16-5) have done a good job as they prepare to face Reed City in the Class B regional semifinals tonight at Fremont High School.
This will be the second meeting between the two teams this season. The Redskins and Coyotes met on Aug. 23 at the Cadillac Invitational. Reed City defeated the Redskins in three games.
It was just the second tournament of the season for the Redskins and Belding coach Mikayla Linebaugh said her team is improved since then.
“I don’t think we were playing as well as what we have been playing,” Linebaugh said. “It was one of our very first tournaments and I really think we have a shot at them.”
Belding advanced to the regional tournament without losing a game. The district host Redskins defeated Lakeview, Shepherd and Central Montcalm, all 3-0.
Reed City defeated Farwell, Clare and Chippewa Hills to advance. Belding topped Chippewa Hills last year in the district finals and also defeated the Warriors early this year.
“The girls are excited for this,” Linebaugh said. “We know now there isn’t any team that doesn’t deserve to be here.”
Linebaugh is expecting a good match between the two teams.
“I think it will be pretty evenly matched,” Linebaugh said. “If we continue to play the pace game that we have been I think we will be fine. The key is our serve-receive to set up our offense.”
Serve-receive is just one key for the Redskins. Despite, being a young team, they have the most experience along the back with a trio of three-year players.
“Our three main serve-receivers our Hannah (Linebaugh), Rachel (Hunt) and Stefanie (Harig). They are three-year players,” Linebaugh said. “In every serve-receive they are our nucleus and have had pressure before. They have come through before and are leaders.”
Another key for the Redskins will be having fun and enjoying the experience.
“I’ve been trying to keep it low key and have fun with it,” Linebaugh said. “We are taking some kids from school on the bus for a crowd. I just want them to play hard. If they give 110 percent that’s all I can ask of them.”
Regardless, there will be some nerves and have been already. If they get through the nerves the Redskins are confident they can win.
“At practice we getting off in our serve-receive and there was some frustration,” Linebaugh said. “I stopped practice and told them to take a breath. Don’t put too much pressure and take yourself out of the game. Try not to get caught up in regionals.
“If we get beat I want them to beat us. I want them to earn the win and us not to beat ourselves,” she added.
Whitehall faces Grant in the first semifinal at 6 p.m. Belding and Reed City play at 8 p.m. The winners will meet in the regional final on Thursday at 6 p.m.
The quarterfinals take place in Cadillac on Nov. 13. The semifinals and final will take place at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek Nov. 15 and Nov. 17.